Amit Shah heads government panel dealing with sexual harassment at workplace
Other than Home Minister Amit Shah, the reconstituted panel will also comprise of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani.
The panel was set up last year in the wake of the MeToo campaign which claimed the scalp of union minister MJ Akbar
The earlier panel, whose tenure was co-terminus with the term of NDA 1, wound up without transacting any business
There was no clarity on whether the panel was constituted in accordance with the Vishaka guidelines and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 which mandate that a woman should lead the panel
The government reconstituted the panel of ministers to deal with prevention of sexual harassment at workplace. Home Minister Amit Shah will head the revised group of ministers to strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks.
The reconstituted panel will also comprise of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of HRD Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, The News Minute reported.
It also mentioned that the Home Ministry would continue to give administrative support to the group of ministers.
"The group of ministers was set up on 18 July since the previous panel lapsed ahead of the formation of the new government," spokesman Shelat Harit Ketan said.
However, there was no clarity on whether the panel was constituted in accordance with the Vishaka guidelines and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which states that anti-sexual harassment panels must be formed keeping a woman at the helm, or at least have two women members and an external member from non-governmental organisation working on women-related issues.
Set up as a response to the MeToo movement on 24 October, 2018, the previous panel was dissolved without accomplishing anything. The revised panel was formed three days after The Quint reported that they filed RTIs to investigate the contribution of the Committee.
The government responded to the RTI saying, "It is to inform you that with the constitution of the seventeenth Lok Sabha and formation of new government, said Committee is no longer in existence."
The move attracted criticism because it is being seen as paying lip service to the MeToo movement. Journalist Revati Laul told Huffpost: "This reveals the government’s lack of interest in and commitment to the issue. They formed a panel with ministers on it. Did they reach out to the women leading the movement? Did they reach out to any survivor and consult them on what needs to be done?"
Some Twitterati questioned why Shah was heading the panel when there were woman members. Others mocked the move referring to the Snoopgate controversy and Shah's alleged but as yet unproven role in it.
The MeToo campaign had triggered a public outcry in the country, with former minister in the NDA government, MJ Akbar, and Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi among dozens of high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct.
With inputs from Reuters
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